How was 2021 for you? As we prepare to welcome 2022, we asked some of Sotheby's friends and collaborators from over the past twelve months to share with us an object, an experience or memory that made their year that bit more special. A moment of joy, a burst of happiness, a cherished memory forged in a year that was frankly, challenging at times. So, from Hong Kong to New York, Paris to London, here are a selection of recollections that have brought warmth and pleasure to our friends this year. We hope they inspire you to recall and treasure your own in the coming months. Meanwhile, a very happy, safe and prosperous New Year to you, from everyone at Sotheby's!
Melanie Grant (Economist/Curator)
The single most joyous thing to enter my life in 2021 was a group of people. 21 designers (19 living and two from history) that comprised our show Brilliant & Black at Sotheby's dedicated to the art of black jewelry design this September. They - and it - changed my life, because a community was born where we got to share our experiences, hopes and dreams and I think we all needed it more than we realised. Frank Everett, Melanie Brister, Amanda Bass and Thelma Golden were in on it, while many others pitched in to make this seminal moment a reality. They collectively made 2021 unforgettable for me.
JiaJia Fei (Digital Strategist)
Although I’ve been a biker for years, 2021 helped me discover how much I needed cycling in my life. For me, biking is my own form of meditation; it’s the only time I am truly by myself, alone with my thoughts, alway from other people or people who are trying to communicate with me through screens. In the past year, I biked over 2,000 miles (according to my Strava app)—a personal record and nearly the equivalent of a cross-country ride, without ever leaving New York City. It’s the one thing that has always brought me joy. Even if I have nowhere to go, I will always have my joy ride.
Kenny Schachter (Artist, NFT advocate)
NFTism is my word for 2021, aside from the trademark I filed and the tattoo that now adorns my arm, NFTs have afforded me the opportunity to expose my work to a new and untold audience and fulfilled my lifelong dream enabling me to make a living off of my own artworks. In addition, the ‘ism’ connotes the wonderful community of like-minded enthusiasts, collectors and supporters I encountered on the path to self-actualization. Its sounds a bit corny, but nevertheless its entirely true.
Jihae (Actor, musician, songwriter)
After getting off the set of Succession in June 2021 I was very excited to spend the summer to early autumn months designing a cow sculpture for Cow Parade's centenary public exhibition. It was one of the most meditative and deep creative experiences I've had to date, one that transformed my outlook on our planet. I spent the first few weeks researching the symbolism of cows in various cultures, religions and myths, to come up with a name and the concept for the cow. In the end none of the mythological names made sense for my cow once I landed on what she was to represent, everything and nothing.
I named her Ether.
Ether is a sonic cow that speaks and sings. Sound is triggered by a motion detector and music was intermixed from collected sounds of forests from around the world; space sounds of NASA; and a vocal composition I made inside a cave in LA with percussionist Mathias Kunzli. I also made beats with Jean-Luc Sinclair out of sounds of sea lions, dolphins, killer whales and haddock, the combination of which resulted in a shepherd’s herding call sounded in reverse to awaken humanity to the urgency of the earth’s climate reaching tipping points of no return. Ether was auctioned off to benefit God's Love We Deliver and was spotted in Art Basel recently. Here's a short film I created as an extension to the sculpture.
Lucinda Chambers (Textile Designer)
This year, I have been inspired by three ceramics. One, a dear piece, bought by a friend who came to stay, which was the first time I had seen her for a year. Another, from a friend whom has just started pottery classes, who gave me a wonderful mug, and the last, a striped ceramic that I bought at a sale where I had a stall and couldn't resist buying. All three represent friendships, new beginnings and the fact that we once again saw people we loved and had missed so much.
Anna Zaoui (Co-Founder, The Invisible Collection)
A dream moment was going back to concerts at Salzburg for the ‘October-Easter’ festival, listening to classical music, arguing about it with friends and the cherry on the pie was making a fabulous new friend there!
Another dreamy moment, was spending an entire wedding week end in Marrakech, with our most precious friends sharing laughter, love, fun, kindness, generosity and drinks… in a magical setting under the Moroccan stars (and a 36C degree temperature!)
Christian House (Writer)
This was the year I discovered the pleasure of breakfasts. Previously skipped, they fell afoul of tardiness – late for school, then lectures, then work – the Weetabix left soggily sorry in its bowl. But in 2021, breakfasts became my trampoline. The year began with sourdough and Marmite and progressed to all manner of Bircher mueslis and porridge concoctions carpet-bombed with berries. Accompanied by strong coffee, natch. There was even a Norwegian number involving brunost. Breakfasts: a revelation, really. In between the bed and the desk there’s a whole world of adventure.
Anna Pasternak (Author)
The gift which has brought me endless joy in 2021 is a small, solid gold Cartier notebook, which the Duke of Windsor gave to the Duchess of Windsor. It is inscribed with their regal insignia -two W's intertwined with a crown above it. It was given to me by the Windsor's former private secretary. Wallis gave it to her as a thank you for her loyalty and kindness. Ms Schutz said that I deserved it as I had done so much to change the narrative about Wallis Simpson with my biography, The American Duchess. I have the notebook - with the original Cartier paper inside- on a glass shelf in my bathroom with other meaningful artifacts. Every day I look at it when I'm bathing. I feel immensely privileged to have something so intimate to the Windsors. I cherish it. Thinking of Wallis, whom I came to adore, always lifts my spirit.
Thomas Roussel (composer and conductor)
When I composed my album 'The Future Comes Before', my main inspiration was time. And I was really into Daniel Arsham’s art (above), especially his ‘Archeology of the Future' objects. His art makes me think of that particularity of time - that it is totally relative, and how fragile we are compared to it. Music is for me, one of the only things in life that allows us to experiment with the past, because it lets us move forward, with the previous notes of the melody. At the same time, we live more intensely in the fleeting present thanks to melody, and we can glimpse the future because we are able to anticipate the end of a melody. Daniel offered me his 'Future Relic Keyboard' when I met him at his atelier, I am so inspired to have it with my real keyboards in my studio.
Ashley Hicks (Interior Designer, Author and Photographer)
One of the great joys of my 2021 was my first visit to Puglia, famously the heel of the Italian boot on maps and a land out of time in a normal year but especially so in this. We drove there from Milan to take photographs for Cabana Magazine, pausing halfway in Tuscia for some Farnese magnificence. Italy was vaguely locked-down which meant empty roads and delighted faces at the sight of rare customers. We found beauties to fill a portfolio, some faded, some ruined, all wonderfully picturesque, a huge treat.
Sheila Bridges (Interior designer)
My design collaboration with my friend, Mark Ingram brought me a lot of joy this year. I have seen my Harlem Toile De Jouy pattern on everything from Sonos speakers to Converse sneakers, but this small couture collection was much more personal. The two gowns were inspired by our stylish mothers and rich family histories, but also took cues from old Hollywood glamour circa 1950’s (think Lena Horne and Dorothy Dandridge). Both of us look at these dresses with fond memories of the social gatherings that our parents often hosted when we were young.
Andrew Graham-Dixon (Art historian and Author)
I have travelled very little during the past year, but I did make one memorable trip to Berlin, where I managed to spend a few hours in the Gemäldegalerie. I hadn’t seen one of my favourite pictures there, Giovanni Bellini’s Resurrection of Christ, for a very long time, so I made straight for it and must have spent the best part of an hour caught in its spell. I think it’s one of the most entrancing pictures in the world: full of joy and a sense of hope. What I love most about it is the way in which Bellini has imagined its subject, the Resurrection, as a kind of mirror image of the Crucifixion, with everything reversed. Christ’s body, floating effortlessly upwards, is at exactly the same height as when raised on the Cross: but now there is no Cross, no pain and suffering, only joy and love. Below him there is a rocky mound that brings to mind the raised place on which he was crucified, namely Golgotha, the place of the skull: but now there are no skulls, only a group of playful rabbits, gambolling in the day’s early light. Behind it all, there is the most beautiful dawn sky that I think I have ever seen in a painting. Rose and gold and every colour in between, it’s a sky to lift the heart. In fact the whole painting lifts the heart. It’s like a fanfare of trumpets, proclaiming the end of suffering and heralding rebirth."
Adrian Chang (CEO of New World Development and Founder of K11)
The Savoir-Faire: Mastery of Craft in Fashion exhibition at K11 MUSEA has been a big highlight for me in 2021. Carine Roitfeld and I collaborated to bring this never-before-seen exhibition to Hong Kong. The idea for this exhibition came about due to our shared passion for craftsmanship and desire to showcase the connectivity between art and fashion, which are both borne from creativity and artisanship.
The exhibition was curated by Carine and features 30 wide-ranging pieces from world renowned fashion houses, including Balenciaga, Chanel, Christian Dior, Louis Vuitton, Schiaparelli, Tom Ford and Valentino. In addition, I hand-selected 12 very special Chinese artefacts from my K11 Craft & Guild Foundation, which supports artists who specialize in Chinese craft techniques and works to educate people on these important skills and ensure they are not forgotten. The artefacts on display include Guangcai porcelain (dating back to the Qing dynasty), Luodian lacquerware (dating back to the Tang dynasty) and Baibaoqian lacquerware (dating back to the Ming dynasty).
The exhibition is special because it is a combination of pieces steeped in rich history as well as those that are at the cutting edge, like those by Richard Quinn and Tom Van Der Borght. All of the items on show have a distinct commonality; they are all the result of unparalleled creativity, wondrous design and intricate craftsmanship. Being able to bring this exhibition, which is a demonstration of how art can be a bridge between the East and West, has brought me much joy this year.
Marie Hazard (Textile Artist)
In 2021, ‘Green’ by Dan Flavin brought me joy. Flavin's work was revolutionary. His installation ‘to you, Heiner with admiration and affection’ is especially inspirational and joyful to me. I was delighted to discover Dia Beacon on my recent visit to New York and have the chance to witness this work and the works of numerous established artists. These works inspired my own photography.
The green in my accompanying photograph fills the space and forces to viewer to look to the end of the installation. We look outside of the space itself and beyond, into nature. Green is the colour of hope, harmony and represents balance to me. I felt minuscule inside the green light yet safe at the same time. Michel Pastoureau noted that ‘green is the symbol of hope’. I find that green is also synonymous with chance and happiness.
Dan Chadwick (Sculptor)
As a very young child I remember standing in the doorway of my father Lynn's studio, at home, in the old stables in Lyppiat Park, near Stroud. The place had a particular metallic smell. There were various steel tables and a high adjustable rotary one for working on smaller pieces. Normally just one piece was being worked on but there were some unfinished frames dotted around.
He did not talk about his work. We never spoke about art. The only thing he said was to warn us not to do it. He felt fortunate to have been recognized and that we should beware thinking we could do the same.
This year, seeing the Second Maquette Of Teddy Boy and Teddy Girl selling so successfully at Sotheby’s Modern Day Auction was a high point for me, and a sign that Lynn’s prices are beginning to be corrected according to the gravity of the man’s work.